CFNC Kids Working The Child and Family Network Centers received a $10,000 grant from the Community Investment Funds in 2016 to help them provide free, high-quality bilingual preschool education in order to prepare at-risk, low-income 3 to 4 year old children for kindergarten success while improving family stability and health outcomes.  Read below about how this grant impacted lives.

Since 1984, The Child and Family Network Centers’ (CFNC) has worked to provide caring, high-quality, free education and related services to at-risk children and their families in their own neighborhoods in order to prepare them for success in school and life. For over 30 years, CFNC has dramatically changed the trajectory of these children’s lives by providing accredited preschool and the support services their families need to succeed. Among various accolades, CFNC was one of the first programs in the country to receive accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children and we were recognized as a model high-quality, bilingual preschool by President Obama’s “Preschool for All” initiative. CFNC also received the 2015 Nonprofit Leader of the Year award by Leadership Fairfax.

Due to the Community Investment Funds Grant from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia in 2016, CFNC’s free, award-winning preschool program was provided to 148 four-year-old children and their families (approximately 592 individuals based on an average family size of 4) in 9 classrooms at 5 sites in Alexandria’s poorest neighborhoods, including the West End and Arlandria areas.


Yassine photo4 Year-Old Yassine

Recently, Yassine stormed into the Child & Family Network Centers’ classroom. He told his teacher, Ms. Maria, that he brought a book from home to share with the class. He pulled the book Germs are not for Sharing out of his backpack and opened it to the first page. Yassine began reading to the class: “Cough, cough, cough. What do you need to do?”, while demonstrating how to cover your mouth while coughing.

Ms. Maria knew this was a special four-year old when he started in her preschool classroom in September. While he only knew a few words before enrolling in CFNC, Yassine quickly grasped how to read in the first few weeks of school. He’s so proud of his reading that he might grab anyone that comes into the classroom and pull them aside to read to them. His love for books must be contagious. (Maybe that’s why he is so concerned about germs.)

In FY2016, 100% of CFNC students (148) checked out a total of 7,251 books from our classroom lending libraries. That’s an average of 49 books per child during the 2015-2016 school year. Additionally, all 148 families were trained on how to utilize effective reading techniques to increase their children’s literacy skills from Family Service staff. As a result, four CFNC preschool students are ahead of kindergarten levels and already reading. These preliminary outputs—combined with CFNC’s suite of holistic, intergenerational services—result in meaningful, lifelong change for the children and families we serve.

Yassine now has such a great love of reading, he was happy to be featured in CFNC’s 2015-2016 graduation video.

Please feel free to visit this link of Yassine reading Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss.

AntonioAntonio is the first to read or write in his family

A mother walked through our doors last week, eager to register her four-year-old son for The Child and Family Network Centers’ (CFNC) free preschool program for low-income families. With staff vacations, our CEO, Lissette Bishins, was the only staff member in the office who could communicate with the family in Spanish. Knowing the mom had hired a car service to drive her to our offices – not because she could afford to but because she had to –Lissette was determined to help her fill out the application for her child.

An immigrant from El Savador, this mom had been abused at school as a child and dropped out in the 2nd grade. She never returned to school for fear of having to face her abuser again. And because she was forced to drop out of school at such an early age, she never learned to read or write. So the mom responded to Lisette’s questions and Lissette filled out the application for her and when it came to signing her name she scribbled the only two letters of her name that she knew.

As the mom was leaving our offices, she asked Lissette to write down the address of her next destination for the driver. You see, because she is illiterate, she can’t navigate the bus system so she must rely on a driver to take her where she needs to go. She hands the tiny paper to the driver and hopes he doesn’t take advantage of her and drives her directly to her next stop.

This mom moved to the U.S. simply because she wanted a better life for her children. She knows she can’t teach her children to read and write but by sending her son to CFNC she knows he will learn the letters of the alphabet; he will learn to speak English; and he will learn to write his name before he graduates. He WILL BE the first in their family to read or write.